Chester Gould

Cartoonist/Writer, Pawnee
2006 Inductee Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame

It took Chester Gould nearly a decade to create a comic strip that was successful, but when he did it was Dick Tracy, one of the most famous strips of all time.

Gould was born in Pawnee before Oklahoma became a state. His father was publisher of one of the town’s newspapers, and Gould was only seven when his first cartoon was published.

Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State) discovered his talent, and he produced cartoon artwork for the college annuals of 1918 and 1919 while he was still in high school. In 1919 he also produced eighteen political cartoons for the Tulsa Democrat (for which he was paid a total of $35).

He attended Oklahoma A&M in 1920 and 1921 then moved to Chicago, where he attended Northwestern University at night. He eventually found employment at the Chicago Tribune where he also began submitting comic strip ideas to publisher J. M. Patterson.

After graduation from Northwestern University in 1923, he began working at the Chicago American where he drew comic strips, including Fillum Fables, and caricatures. In 1928, he moved on to the Chicago Daily News, where he drew The Girl Friends along with other artwork.

After sixty rejections, he submitted Plainclothes Tracy to Col. Patterson. This was accepted and became Dick Tracy. Soon it became the subject of a series of movies, a radio program and even inspired the character “Fearless Fosdick” in the Li’l Abner comic strip.

Gould retired from the strip in 1977, though his byline remained until he withdrew it in 1981. Gould twice was honored with the Reuben Award, the highest honor of the National Cartoonists Society.

Biography courtesy of The Toy & Action Figure Museum, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma